Mechanics' Institute Chess Room Newsletter #66

"The Rook endgame is considered to be an integral part of the endgame technique. I agree with that, particularly if I add that even the imperfect mastership of this incredibly complex technique is so unapproachable for the majority of the players that nowadays there is not a single player that can be called perfect in rook endings, the last two world champions included."

   A.Alekhine 1927

1) Gaffagan and Wong win Kurt Bendit Tuesday Night Marathon
2) Mechanics' Institute Chess History: 1939
3) Chess Books and Equipment in the Bay Area
4) MI Events FIDE Rated 
5) Additions to the MI Library Chess Collection 
6) Upcoming Events

1) Gaffagan and Wong win Kurt Bendit Tuesday Night Marathon

They entered the last round tied for first and that is how they finished. Expert Steve Gaffagan of El Cerrito and National Master Russell Wong tied for first in the Kurt Bendit Tuesday Night Marathon, courtesy of wins over Yefim Bukh and Larry Snyder respectively. Gaffagan made short work of Bukh, but Snyder-Wong was the last game to finish, with a dozen stalwarts still watching at the end around 1O:30 PM.

The two winners, who each received $207.50, scored 7-1, drawing only with each other and third place finisher NM David Blohm who had 6. The score group on 5 1/2 yielded most of the remaining prize winners with Victor Ossipov and Peter Grey splitting the Expert prize, Eric Brody taking top A and Charles Kleiman top B. Booksellers dominated the lower ranks with Stacey's manager Tom Allen taking the top C prize and Bryan Bilby, owner of the Chelsea Book Shop, finishing as the first player under 1400.

The event was held to honor longtime MI member Kurt Bendit who was serving as the Chess Director in 1964 when Bobby Fischer gave his famous exhibition in San Francisco.

2) Mechanics' Institute Chess History: 1939

Everyone remembers the excellent results that George Koltanowski achieved while playing in Europe in the early 1930s, but if you ask most players about his chess career in the United States they think of him as a world champion blindfold player, a fantastic promoter, tournament director and journalist. Few know that he did play for a while after his move to the Bay Area. I.A. Horowitz's Chess Review recounts Kolti's activities in 1939.

Bagby- Koltanowski Match

Charles Bagby played a two game match with George Koltanowski prior to the latter's participation in the California Championship. The result was a 1-1 tie.

Charles Bagby- George Koltanowski [D95]
San Francisco 9/11/1939

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nf3 Bg7 4.Nc3 d5 5.e3 0-0 6.Qb3 e6 7.Be2 Nc6 8.cxd5 exd5 9.0-0 Ne7 10.Rd1 c6 11.Bd2 Nf5 12.Rac1 Nd6 13.Ne5 Nd7 14.Nxd7 Bxd7 15.Na4 Re8 16.Bb4 Bc8 17.Nc5 Bf8 18.a4 Ne4 19.Nxe4 Bxb4 20.Qxb4 Rxe4 21.Bf3 Re7 22.Qc5 Be6 23.b4 a6 24.Ra1 a5 25.Rdb1 axb4 26.a5 Bf5 27.Rxb4 Bd3 28.Rb6 Ra6 29.g3 Rd7 30.Bg2 Qa8 31.Qc3 Bb5 32.Bf1 Bxf1 33.Kxf1 Rxb6 34.axb6 Qc8 35.Ra7 f5 36.Qc5 Kf7 37.Qa5 Qe8 38.Ra8 Rd8 39.Rxd8 Qxd8 40.Qa7 Qc8 41.Qa5   ½ - ½

1939 California State Championship

Philip Wolliston, 19-year-old Los Angeles youth, scored a smashing victory in his conquest of the California State Championship tournament which concluded November 23rd. Losing only one of his eight games, he outranked a field which included Harry Borochow, state titlist since 1930. Herman Steiner of the 1931 American international team, and George Koltanowski, better known for his exploits san voir.

Wolliston, youngest competitor in the field of nine, and the youngest state champion ever to win El Dorado's crown, has made an auspicious entry in this, his first important tournament.

1. Wolliston 7-1
2-3. Borochow and Steiner 6
4. Koltanowski  4 ½
5. Kovacs 4
6. Fink 3
7. Patterson 2 ½
8. Bazad 2
9. Gibbs 0

Phillip Wolliston spent his high school years in Seattle before relocating to Los Angeles. He is featured in game 80 of Reshevsky's Best Games of Chess (Reshevsky on Chess), a losing effort from the 1940 US Championship. He is not listed in Gaige's Chess Personalia. Does anyone know what happened to him?

3) Chess Books and Equipment in the Bay Area

A short disclaimer: The Newsletter is not a commercial enterprise and we get no kickbacks in book, clocks or boards. Alas! The following is presented as a public service for those who may still be stuck wondering what to get chessplayers for Christmas.

Every week the MI staff gets about a half dozen calls inquiring where to buy chess books and equipment locally. It's getting harder and harder to answer this question as stores like Games of Berkeley phase out their chess section, but there are still some excellent local companies. For new books Stacey's (415) 421-4687 at 581 Market in San Francisco tops the big chains as the manager, Tom Allen, is a chessplayer. Recent releases from Gambit, Everyman and Batsford make up the bulk of the collection. Those that prefer used books have two good choices. In San Francisco the place to go is Chelsea Book Shop (415) 566-1507 at 637 Irving where owner and chessplayer Bryan Bilby typically has 150 to 200 books in stock in a variety of languages. In the East Bay it's Moe's (510) 849-2087 at 2476 Telegraph Avenue, not far from the UC Berkeley campus. This huge bookstore is open long hours and features an excellent selection of used chess books with a fairly rapid turnover.

Places to buy equipment are more limited. Grants Tobacco is right down the street from the MI, not far from Staceys on Market. Its window display features chess boards and clocks. A larger selection can be found at Gamescape at 333 Divisadero in San Francisco which carries many different sets and clocks as well as a small selection of books.

4) MI Events FIDE Rated

The United States Chess Federation was very slow in getting events FIDE rated earlier this year, but they have done an excellent job the past month. We are happy( very happy!) to say that the following events will be rated on the January 1, 2002, list.

#368 August FIDE Rating Tournament
#448 Bay Area Masters
#553 July FIDE Rating Tournament A
#554 July FIDE Rating Tournament B
#666 Summer FIDE Rating Tournament 1
#667 Summer FIDE Rating Tournament  2

Note that the last two events are from the four player double round robin won by Carl Haessler. They were rated as two separate round robin events. A big thanks to Michael Aigner for his help in making sure these events got rated.

All told on the January 2002 FIDE rating list there will 37 American events rated, 6 of them from the MI. This puts us number two in the country behind only the Continental Chess Association (Bill Goichberg and Steve Immitt). Credit for this surge in activity goes to MI Scholastic Chess Director Anthony Corrales.

5) Additions to MI Library Chess Collection

The Mechanics' Institute is noted for having one of the best public collections of chess books and periodicals on the West Coast. It has nearly complete runs of the British Chess Magazine, The American Chess Bulletin and Chess Review. Now, courtesy of Neil Falconer, we have bound sets of the California Chess Reporter in both the Library and the Chess Room. This publication, which ran from 1951 to 1976, set a standard for state magazines and is an invaluable record for California chess.

The MI has a good selection of Deutsche Schachzeiting, Deutsches Wochensach and the Wiener Schachzeitung from the early 1900s, but until recently its collection of more current foreign periodicals was not very impressive. That has changed overnight with a very generous donation by Val Zemis of Davis, California. Mr. Zemitis, who worked with Bob Burger and Neil Falconer on the California Chess Reporter in the 1950s, and wrote The Unknown Tal in 1960. Now the Library has extensive runs of the Hungarian journal Magyar Sakkelet plus large holdings of Romana de Sah (Romania), Schachnytt (Sweden) and Schach (East Germany) to mention just a few. If you have magazines or books that you are no longer using consider making a donation and get a tax writeoff.

The next time you make a visit to the MI check out the interesting chess display in the 3rd floor lockcase room. Put together by MI Library staffer Maria Pinedo with the support of Head Librarian Inez Cohen, it features a look back at the rich chess history of this institution.

6) Upcoming Events

Please note that the January 26-27 event in Hercules has been changed to four rounds instead of 5. A new listing is the annual tournament at Ohlone College in Fremont. This event will be held March 23 and 24.

Those looking for weekly rated games should check out the Berkeley Chess Club which meets at Epworth Church in North Berkeley just off MLK near Hopkins. Play starts at 8 pm but you need to register by 7:30. Gliman is the easiest exit off I-80 and bus #43 goes within a block of the site which is about a mile from the downtown Berkeley BART.
Call Alan Glascoe at (510) 652-5324 for more information.

For MI Tournaments go to ( for complete details.

January 5
Bob Burger Open (5 rounds G/45 at 1/2 k)

January 25 - 27, 2002.
Bay Area Masters Spring Grand Prix I (*)
Prizes: 1st $1000 2nd $500 3rd $200
Based on 22 paid entries.
Site: Mechanics' Institute Chess Room, 57 Post St.
4th Floor, San Francisco, Ca. 94104
Dates: January 25, 26 and 27, 2002.
Schedule: 5 round Swiss
Open to players rated 2200 USCF and above (December 2001 rating list)
USCF and FIDE rated.
Time control: 30/90 + 30/1 + SD/15.
Rounds: Friday 1/25 at 5pm. Saturday 1/26 and Sunday 1/27 at 11 am and 5pm.
Entry fee: $100, if received by 1/22, $120 thereafter. GMs and IMs free. On site registration 1/25 4-4:30pm.
Send entries to: Guillermo Rey, 435 Firecrest Ave, Pacifica, Ca. 94044.
Info: Guillermo at 650-355-0305 or
Organized by IM Guillermo Rey and directed by Mechanics' Institute Chess Room staff.
* Two other similar tournaments will be held during the first half of the year as part of the Grand Prix. The player who scores the most total points in all three tournaments will receive an additional $300. Tournaments dates will be announced soon.( Before the end of 2001).


PaloAlto Open Chess Festival
Sunday January 6, 2002
6 round G/30 event rated 1/2 K
Prizes based on 60 entries: Open:500-250, X:300, A:250, B:220, C:200 D/Unr: 180
Entry Fee: $50 if sent by 11/15, $60 if sent by 1/3, $65 at doors.
Make checks payable to Lev Grzhonko 440, 9th ave, #3, San Francisco, Ca, 94118
Registration: 9am-10am
Rounds: 10am-11:30am-1pm-2:30pm-4pm-5:30pm
Where: Rollnick Auditorium, 655 Arastradero Rd, Palo Alto, Palo Alto Jewish Community Center. 3 blocks away from El Camino Real
For More Information email

Hercules Amateur Championship

January 26th and 27th One section U2200, 4 rounds, G/2 $$1,200 (based on 45) 350-250-150, Best A $130, B $120, C $100, D/E/Unr. $100 E.F $35.00 If postmarked by 1/18/01 after $40.00 at site.
Send entries to: Rico Adkins, Tourn Director
15696 Crestwood Dr. #172 San Pablo, CA 94806

Mar. 23-24.
4th Annual Bay Area Ohlone Tourney.4SS, 30/90, SD/60 College Cafeteria,recieved 43600 Mission Blvd., Fremont, CA.recieved $$(1620 b/100 full entries). 3 sects: Open, open to all. EF $35 if recieved by 3/21,$40 at site. $$ 300-170-100, U2100 $$ 155, 100. Reserve, open to U1900. EF : $ 35 if recieved by 3/21, $40 at site. $$ 200-80-70, U1700 $165, 80.Booster, open to U1500. EF: $35 if recieved by 3/21, $40 at site, $$ 100-60-40. Prizes: Trophy in each sect. +Trophy for best 3 mem. Team. Special EF:Scholastic rated U1100 or new USCF mem., Collegiate/ USCF mem. attending College, $30 in adv., $35 at site. All: $3 CalChess discount. Reg.9-9:30 am Rds. Sat. 10-3:30, Sun. 9:30-3.
Hans Poschmann, 4621 Seneca Park Ave.,
Fremont, CA 94538,

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